Saturday, August 29

Don't Do Life Alone!

We were created for relationships! God said it, and I agree.

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."
Genesis 2:18
So, then, WHY are relationships so hard? Why is it that our helpers sometimes don't seem suitable for us? I'm just being honest; but, even with my helper, my natural tendency is still to isolate. And, can I really have a suitable helper if he doesn't really know me?

Over the past few years, I've uncovered this difficulty about me. I'm a "stuffer." We all know the huge complications that come from not sharing thoughts, emotions, and feelings. But, I have a really 'kind' reason for not wanting to share. If I feel like my feelings about a situation will hurt someone else's feelings, it's not worth it to me. I'd rather hide my emotions in order to save another's. 

For starters, there's this guy....

You better believe there have been some feelings over the years that I didn't want to share with him. They were tough emotions, and he'd caused some of them, and we'd been making so much progress, and I thought it would just stir it all up again to share? Wasn't that correct thinking?

The simple answer is, "YES!" But, Scotty, along with my really good therapist, have taught me that it's always worth it to share. It's the best, most healthy option to speak openly with your significant other even when the content is UGLY!

Now, I don't have to share the full extent of that content here. What I do want to share is the GIFT I've been given by Scotty's desire to enter in to this honest relationship with me. 

Full Acceptance. In a world where all of us are putting only our best onto social media, something is happening that is extremely ironic. The world has more access to our lives than ever, BUT no one sees any reality at all. Then, we can get so caught up in all of the 'likes' and positive comments that we believe we need that acceptance and wouldn't get it if anyone knew the less attractive parts of our lives. See, the Facebook version of me is many times different than the home version of me. Everyone doesn't have to know all of my junk. But if I didn't feel comfortable sharing the yuck with someone I'd be tempted to believe that the less attractive parts of me make me less than. I tell Scotty all the time, "I'm just a mess!" Letting someone see that and feeling his commitment to being WITH me IN that mess expresses complete acceptance to me. 

A Tool for Sanctification. Oh yeah... if you're married you are nodding in agreement now. A person is sanctified when he or she is used for the purpose God intended. I WANT THAT! Living with someone day in and day out is tricky. Living with and raising kids with someone that is so very different can create an impossible environment to live out the Godly life well. Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I'm convinced I could do this life better on my own. Here's why that's a big, fat, LIE.... On my own, I'd have no one to call me out on my hypocrisy. Now, don't take that the wrong way. My husband doesn't keep a running list of all of the ways my words and actions don't line up. However, it's in the difficulties of our communication that God is able to show me how I'm fighting against HIS best for me. The impurity within me bubbles to the surface; and, if I'll cooperate with it, God can use these uncomfortable interactions with Scotty to burn it away!  There are some things about Amy that must be burned up in order for me to fulfill the purposes God has for me. Many, many times, God uses Scotty to expose those things. 

Safety. This may seem like an odd one! In previous posts, I've written about the fact that Scotty has always had this deep down conviction that if anyone REALLY knew him they'd run from him quickly. There's depth there I won't go into. But, over the past couple of years, I've come to realize I have this same false belief, but it plays out a little differently. In my case, somehow I created this belief that to struggle outwardly may make it too difficult for others to be in relationship with me. In other words, I've felt that struggling outwardly in relationship would send those I love running away from me. It's fear, and it's unfounded, but it's been real. So, for a couple of years, relating to me has been beyond difficult for Scotty. And, HE'S STILL HERE.... every day.... asking for more (maybe he's crazy).... and committing to stay the course no matter what. Man, he must want to run sometimes. He doesn't! And, in that "stick and stay" mentality, I'm gaining a confidence and certainty that is new for me. 

So, we miss something beautiful in the pretty world of Facebook and Instagram. Truly knowing and being truly known even when the content is messy IS the beauty that is relational living. None of us will HIGH JUMP over messy obstacles to wellness in our relationships. 

Celebrations require accomplishments.

Victory requires a fight.

And, worthwhile relationships require true commitment.

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
 Ephesians 4: 1-3

Tuesday, August 25

Just Thoughts...

As most of you know, my world was ROCKED by sin a few years ago. The sin was adultery, and it was devastating. There aren't really any words that can explain the pain I experienced when I discovered my little family was changing... that life would never again be as simple as it had been so far. No! words!

There's really no way for me to share with you the fear involved in NOT knowing what the next moments would look like. Even years into recovery, the difficulties still caused questions and uncertainty. For me, when parts of the pain were still present a year or two after confession, I'd be struck by this question... Can I do this forever? 

 P.S. -- The enemy is REALLY good at making us think the good is temporary but the difficult is forever.

It would be impossible to tell you how unbearable it was to PUBLICLY experience the pain, the suffering, the uncertainty, the devastation, and the shock WHILE those around us gloated, schemed, and cast judgement over our future.  

It would be IMPOSSIBLE, because THAT wasn't our  experience!

Now, I'm not so naive that I believe there weren't those people. But, they aren't who I remember. Scotty and I were fortunate! We were surrounded by an ARMY of believers warring on our behalf and encouraging us to do the same. What a blessing! (By the way, THANK YOU again to SO MANY.) 

Today, another believing family is facing similar emotions. I realize the situation is different. These are FAMOUS believers. The sin has more history and more depth. Regardless, they are in a MESS. And, I'm telling you, it's a SCARY mess. I can't weigh in on the situation any more than that... Life is HARD, and the choices of this well known husband/father has made his family's life EVEN HARDER. For that, I pray GRACE AND MERCY. I pray HEALTH AND HEALING. And, I pray JESUS, COME QUICKLY. 

My thoughts today have less to do with this family and more to do with this question, Why is it our NATURAL tendency, as believers, to rejoice (a little or a lot) over the BIG sins of those around us? Why does that seem to PUFF UP our egos? And, the big question,  

Why don't we realize the SIN in that???

God has done this AMAZING thing for me, and it began a few years ago. It's amazing EVEN THOUGH it kind of made me mad for a while! He's been showing me MY SINS every time I try to focus only on Scotty's. Isn't THAT crazy? Can you even imagine? Each and every time I want to focus on this HUGE sin my husband committed... betrayal to our family... God points out the sin that is my very own. 

Does that sound mean? Sometimes, it FELT mean! But, it might be the thing I'm most grateful for in our story. Now, please don't hear me say that God has shown me sin that CAUSED my husband to fail. You ARE NOT hearing that! Sin doesn't work like that. I could say more! I won't. :)!

But, over the years, God has shown me MY OWN WAYS that are detrimental to living the life I SAY I want to live. In other words, what I WANT out of life and what I GIVE to life don't always match.

I'll just give you one example...

In my home, with the people I love most, I have this GREAT difficulty LIVING OUT what I'm learning from God. I get up early in the morning. I spend time with God and His Word; and, most mornings, I feel like He's done a work in my heart. Then, I walk out of my room and into the kitchen where my husband and three precious children are readying for the day. Many days (not every day), I'm quickly overtaken by this irritation, simple moodiness, or an absurd frustration. And, by gosh, I want them to KNOW IT! So, these emotions will be seen on my face and heard in my actions. There you have it, selfishness, moodiness, ungratefulness, and distrust all wrapped up in one scenario.

Now, I'm not being too hard on myself. I'm not going to wallow in disgust over my moodiness and ungratefulness. But, I AM going to acknowledge that it is SIN. Left untreated, it COULD create pain in my marriage and family JUST AS DAMAGING AS Scotty's sin of adultery. And, every time my human reasoning tries to say, "You are NOT going to liken moodiness to adultery," I'm staring in the face of another relationship-destroying sin... PRIDE!

Can you see the arrogance? What would cause me to DESIRE to focus on the pain caused by a "larger" sin in another person when I KNOW words hurt, unreasonable voice tones can be alarming, and (oh my goodness) unusually tense or rough body language is downright confusing? I'll tell you...

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

This has been an ongoing work within me... God is CONSTANTLY pushing and prodding. He's forcing me to truly FEEL the depth of my own sin. He's allowing me to see the ways my own life history has created these distancing tendencies. And, while the PROCESS has been grueling, it's been extremely rewarding. It's brought me to a greater dependence on HIM. It's caused me to recognize that my WORDS don't matter a bit if I can't WALK THEM OUT on a daily basis, with the people I love, in the relationships He's given. It's HARD! But, it's BEAUTIFUL!

So, when the news hit that ANOTHER believing brother had fallen to sexual immorality, I cringed. I was momentarily tempted to cast stones. I wanted to put myself beside him in comparison (yucky pride!) and sigh a bit of relief that I don't have THAT sin to repent of. But, I can't! My own human-ness is too exhausting to focus on another's. The ground is COMPLETELY LEVEL at the throne of grace. And, thank goodness, because I NEED my fair share.